Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson defended the men's basketball program yesterday, saying the school checks out all potential players.

He would not confirm that Derrick Rose, who led Memphis to the 2008 national title game, is at the center of an NCAA investigation of major violations during that season.

In a letter to the school, the NCAA says an unknown person took the SAT for a player, with his knowledge, and then the player used that test to get into Memphis. The NCAA said the athlete in question played for the Tigers in the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The only person who played only that season was Rose.

"We wouldn't play anybody if we hadn't checked it out pretty thoroughly," Johnson told the Associated Press. He would not identify the player involved for privacy reasons. But he said the player is cooperating with Memphis' investigation into the allegations.

The NCAA has asked Memphis to provide copies of the SAT and a Sept. 2, 2008, report by a forensic document examiner who studied the handwriting in the SAT.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that someone with access to Rose's academic records at Simeon High School changed a D to a C on his transcript before it was sent to colleges.

Memphis faces the loss of its 38 wins that season.

New Memphis coach Josh Pastner said he wasn't aware of the allegations when offered the job in April to replace Calipari.


* Kentucky countersued fired men's coach Billy Gillispie, claiming it doesn't owe him pay because he never signed a contract.

Gillispie, who was fired March 27, is seeking $6 million in lost salary and other costs. *